The intensity of the Clio Trophy France Asphalte increased a notch on the return to action on the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine. With several lead changes and more than five crews challenging for the win as well as the unfailing reliability of Clio Rally5, the competitors put on a superb show on the special stages plotted in the Alps.
After a nearly two-month break, the Clio Trophy France Asphalte was back in action on one of France’s most spectacular rallies, the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine. The drivers were ready to fight it out to get their second half of the season off to an ideal start, and the battle was on par with the breathtaking scenery.
Leader of the general classification, Romain Di Fante was the first to strike with the fastest time on the longest timed sector of the rally, but it was then Guillaume Canivenq in the lead when Romain Fostier and Florian Bernardi won the following two stages. However, the winner of the previous event ceded the leadership to Romain Di Fante before heading to the service park as the driver from Nice led a group of five contenders, covered by just 6.1s.
Rain added to the suspense in the afternoon. Guillaume Canivenq posted his first scratch time in the changing, slippery and tricky conditions to retake the lead before dropping precious seconds. Styve Juif drove at a consistent pace to take advantage of the situation with the best time on SS6 to take over the top spot. At the end of this incredibly spectacular first leg, Styve Juif was 2.3s ahead of Romain Di Fante, who in turn was 2.5s ahead of Romain Fostier. Florian Bernardi and Guillaume Canivenq completed a top five covered by 16.3s, with sixth place Thomas Chauffray another 12.3s further back.
Saturday began with the same frantic tempo. Like the day before, Romain Di Fante set the tone early to take the lead for a scant 0.6s. Not ready to throw in the towel, Styve Juif answered on SS10 but Romain Di Fante retaliated on the following stage with the top six cars within 1.3s, highlighting the trophy’s incredible level of competitiveness.
The two continued their mano-a-mano with Styve Juif setting the best time on the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage run in mixed conditions. While he led his rival for three seconds before the decisive loop in the increasingly capricious weather conditions, Romain Di Fante held on to his lead, losing only a tenth of a second on SS14.
The penultimate stage was a turning point when Styve Juif made a small mistake that led to minor contact. Romain Di Fante took advantage, setting the best time to take the lead between Samoëns and Morillon before sealing his success with authority in Morzine.
Romain Di Fante became the first competitor to win twice this season, with a 25.1s margin over Styve Juif. Romain Fostier completed the podium at 28.6s to the winner. Guillaume Canivenq and Florian Bernardi round out the top five, separated by only one tenth of a second after 187,88 kilometres at full speed.
Benjamin Stirling took sixth place ahead of Thomas Chauffray, who recovered nicely after a puncture on SS13. Antoine Massé, Julien Baziret and Julien Pontal followed, depriving Jérémy Sarhy of a top ten finish by only half a second. In the Gentlemen Category, Michel Giraldo won his battle with Patrice Bonnefond and Dominique Patenotte, while Margot Dupuy took the honours in the Female category.
Romain Di Fante now leads Styve Juif by 38 points in the general classification. Thomas Chauffray is another two points behind. Richard Paget’s lead over Dominique Patenotte has been trimmed to three points in the Gentlemen category while Margot Dupuy now trails Sarah Filipe by seven points in the Female category. Europe Location held off Naudon Rally Services in the Teams standings, as did Groupe Bertrand against Garage De Sousa in the Challenge Réseau Renault.
Meanwhile, Anthony Fotia continued his official programme with Clio Rally4. After winning four out of six stages on Friday and the first three on Saturday, the 2020 Clio Trophy France winner saw victory slip away when his choice of tyres in the mixed conditions of the final loop failed to deliver. Nevertheless, his performance ensured that Clio Rally4 was second in its class in the FFSA French two-wheel-drive Rally Championship.
The next round of the season will take the Clio Trophy France Asphalte competitors to Rallye Cœur de France (23-25 September), where the action promises to be grandiose once again.
Romain Di Fante : "It was an amazing rally with an incredibly high level ! The gaps are narrowing in each round, and there is no room for mistake anymore. We ran at a very fast pace. I was in an intense battle with Styve and Romain, and we had to remain focused all the time due to the unpredictable weather conditions. I’m a bit disappointed that we couldn’t fight Styve to the end because he and his co-driver deserved to win as much as we did, but I’m happy that they held on to second place. As for us, we wanted to keep the pressure on our opponents, and we are proud to have scored so many points in Morzine. It’s an excellent result for the championship."
Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine*
Clio Trophy France Asphalte 2021
1. Romain Di Fante - Patrick Chiappe (J) 1h54:39.0s
2. Styve Juif - Maxime Biegalke (J) +25.1s
3. Romain Fostier - Ophelie Abchiche +28.6s
4. Guillaume Canivenq - Bastien Dumas +40.7s
5. Florian Bernardi - Florent Barral +40.8s
6. Benjamin Stirling - Florence Wehrey (J) +1:33.3s
7. Thomas Chauffray - Anthony Hamard +2:02.3s
8. Antoine Masse - Marc Haddad +2:10.3s
9. Julien Baziret - Maxime Auguste +4:17.4s
10. Julien Pontal - Loan Biagetti (J) +4:38.0s
11. Jeremy Sarhy - Alexis Maillefert (J) +4:38.5s
12. Xavier Quinsac - Jean-François de Montredon +5:18.6s
13. Rémi Jouines - Sylvain Kukulka +6:05.5s
14. Michel Giraldo - Méryl Giraldo (G) +7:51.7s
15. Patrice Bonnefond - Séverine Chamiot-Maitral (G) +8:55.2s
16. Julien Anthérieu - Valérie Anthérieu (J) +9:25.2s
17. Jérôme Janny - Clément Gutierrez +9:30.4s
18. Dominique Patenotte - Romain Gandre (G) +10:13.7s
19. Margot Dupuy - Clio Chambelland (F) +10:26.6s
20. Florian Picchioni - Laurie Galera +10:40.2s
21. Kévin Duc - Anne Lise Michelier (J) +13:57.9s
22. Charley Trevilly – Gilbert Dini +17:29.0s
Ab. Sébastien Rambaud - Nicolas Febvre (J)
Ab. Mathias Dubouloz - Dimitri Tograrelli
Ab. Medhi Oddoux - Hugues d’Ozenay (J)
Ab. Tom Pieri - Arnaud Dunand (J)
*Results subject to confirmation following technical scrutineering.